The Pacific Ring of Fire shelters this inactive 4680 meters volcano in the Valley of Toluca, 120 km west from Mexico City. My folks and I took such adventure on last days of September, when it doesn’t get too cold, but the risk of the rain runs.
The bus we catch at Toluca’s bus station moved forward through the woods while driving up already in the mountain. As we were haunted by the sightseeing, we had any idea of where we should get off, until the mad driver call us out: “weren’t you seeking to climb the mountain?”… “Yes, sir! Sure!”. “Then you should’ve taken the last way out!” After that, he stopped and literally drops us off in the middle of a small highway.
We tried hitchhiking and getting to the entry road, but any success was on our favor. Among the very few amount of cars that were passing through, a friendly fellow stopped and let my 6 shameless friends and I get into his car, and drove us some kilometers back, where a stall marked the kick-off to the path up to the top.
After thanks the guy, we started off our escapade. As very noob hikers, we had any idea of what we were doing. We didn’t know how many kilometers were left to the top, didn’t check out the weather before going. We had no tent, no sleeping bags, scarce food and water.
The first steps were really effortless. The path wasn’t actually steep, the land was quite solid and climate was fresh. Some of us had taken a small breakfast at the subway station, but we really started to be hungry and began using up our rations of food (which included tuna cans and salty cookies, not the best repast, trust me…)
While we realized the track was actually made for cars, after a few minutes of hiking our friend Guillermo put us up to take a shortcut. He proposed to walk in straight line to avoid that unnecessary curve, and we’d be back in the road in less time. As untrained trekkers, we agreed.
Once into the woods, while we gently undressed as the sun started heating up, we lost our way and stopped to think. We had no map and no signal in our cell phones. We took it on, we were lost.
All at once, the path split into two tracks. Right or left? Which was the right one? After a small scanning, we took the left one, as the right trail became suddenly fading out. And when our spirits were really low, we catch sight the road. We got back there to never leave it behind again.
It had been already two hours and a half since we departed. Only three other hours were missing to sunset, then we knew it was a setback race, as we still needed to walk down.
We started stopping some of the cars that were coming down. Some people used to tell us: Don’t worry; it’s only 3 kilometers missing. Then others told us: are you guys insane? It’s still more than 8!
When the haggling about “what to do?” was just opening up, while we were already losing our hope, a truck bedliner showed up from the back of a crag. With any doubt, we all halted the car asking for help. As the guy was driving down the mountain, he wasn’t too convinced of taking us up. But after offering for money, he accepted.
While going up, we realized how hard would’ve been to get there by walking, as the most high the trail was the most difficult it got. A rare mist was covering the top when we finally rolled in.
The guy parked and left us at the check point, from where we had to walk another kilometer up. It was about 5 pm, and most of the tourists were leaving already. So when we saw among the fog a college bus (from Mexico City) we knew it was our ticket back.
So we ran to the top, and once the crater came into view, everything we had passed through was finally worth it.
The landscape was marvelous. The grayish limestone garnish the ground, which gets uneven at both sides, where the cliffs known as the Eagle and the Humboldt Peaks lay, watching over the middle one that separates the two freezing and beautiful lakes.
Just starting taking our pictures, a huge fog cloud began to set upon us. After a few minutes, anything around 3 meters radius couldn’t be seen from our point. And when we saw we were the only ones at the top, we quickly ran down.
In order to make it even more interesting, it sharply started hailing. All of our clothes got suddenly wet. Temperatures had already fallen enough to forces us to get a ride back home, as we had no place to stay up there that night.
Almost defeated, the bus showed up among the deep fog. We asked kindly the driver to please take us back to Mexico. He and the students inside speedily agreed, and they allowed us to get it.
So even though we only had around 10 minutes to enjoy the breathtaking views of Nevado de Toluca’s crater, the adventure totally was worth it. Then I suggest you to be more prepared than I was, because taking this trail would absolutely make your Mexico’s trip more incredible.